Scotland

Unmade Beds on Scottish Mornings

From what might otherwise be known as the four poster tour of Scotland…

The Witchery, Edinburgh, Scotland, medieval bed chamber www.bluemesablog.com

The Witchery, Edinburgh: tapestries, old armor, a ghost or two

Dornoch Castle, Scotland, medieval bedchamber www.bluemesablog.com

Dornoch Castle, Dornoch: high walls and roaring fires

Skye, Scotland www.bluemesablog.com

Flodigarry Hotel, Isle of Skye: the wind and the rain

Barcaldine Castle, Scotland www.bluemesablog.com

Barcaldine Castle, Glencoe: clear lochs, bonnie banks, and endless heather

The Mill of Eyrland, Orkney, Scotland cottage bedroom www.bluemesablog.com

The Mill of Eyrland, Orkney: howling wind, ancient megaliths, and more wind

The Witchery, Edinburgh, Scotland, medieval bedchamber www.bluemesablog.com

The Witchery, Edinburgh: tartan and brocade

The Witchery Edinburgh, Scotland, medieval castle bedchamber www.bluemesablog.com

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Scotland

Castaways

The Coral Beach, Isle of Skye, Scotland www.bluemesablog.com

We came upon the coral beach like shipwrecked sailors. While we had never stepped foot from the land, we had spent days tossed about by strong winds beneath stormy clouds on the coast of the Isle of Skye, and we had seen nothing but those cold, silver waters over which the wind came. We knew very little about the place we were trying to find, and had been given only the vaguest directions and a grossly underestimated sense of how long it would take to walk there. It was the end of the day, and we were particularly exhausted from the cold and the incessant scream of the wind that kept us awake all night. What began as a path soon descended into fields of mud, through which we trudged with no great enthusiasm and several conversations about turning back.

And then, after climbing over the collapsed stone wall of an old ruin (or new ruin – those winds destroy rapidly), we saw it, and all but ran down the hill towards the water. The sun came out just as we reached the edge of the beach, and we found ourselves unexpectedly in the midst of a world of Caribbean blue waters, white sand, and bright green hills.

Dressed in heavy wool and muted colours, I felt as though I’d stumbled into a dreamscape I didn’t belong in. It still does not quite seem real.

The Coral Beach, Isle of Skye, Scotland www.bluemesablog.com

The Coral Beach, Isle of Skye, Scotland www.bluemesablog.com

The Coral Beach, Isle of Skye, Scotland www.bluemesablog.com

The Coral Beach, Isle of Skye, Scotland www.bluemesablog.com

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Scotland

The Ring of Brodgar

The Ring of Brodgar, Orkney www.bluemesablog.com

The northernmost circle of standing stones in Britain, The Ring of Brodgar, rests on a heather-mottled hill above the windy banks of the Loch of Harray in Orkney. I came upon it in the afternoon, when the sun intermittently glowed through fast-moving clouds, illuminating the ancient lichens in gold and grey. Some four-thousand years old, the arrangement is unusual for its size and circular pattern. I pressed my ear to one to see if it might yield forgotten voices or an Outlander-esque journey, but all I could hear was the wind. I suppose it’s just as well; I shouldn’t like to be stranded on Orkney centuries ago. But the stones are enchanting.

The Ring of Brodgar, Orkney www.bluemesablog.com

The Ring of Brodgar, Orkney www.bluemesablog.com

The Ring of Brodgar, Orkney www.bluemesablog.com

The Ring of Brodgar, Orkney www.bluemesablog.com

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Scotland

Across the Narrow Sea

Across the Narrow Sea, The Orkney Ferry www.bluemesablog.com

In the morning we drove along the initially pastoral and then bleak eastern coast to the Pentland ferry. The journey took an hour and was without event, except for a maelstrom of sorts near the coast. On the upper deck a band of folk musicians from southern Italy played violins, guitars and pipes amid the sea spray and wind. It was one of those fleeting experiences where you can’t quite remember the tune, but I remember just what I felt like standing there at the windy railing listening to it, looking out over the grey sea.

Across the Narrow Sea, The Orkney Ferry www.bluemesablog.com

Across the Narrow Sea, The Orkney Ferry www.bluemesablog.com

Across the Narrow Sea, The Orkney Ferry www.bluemesablog.com

Across the Narrow Sea, The Orkney Ferry www.bluemesablog.com

Across the Narrow Sea, The Orkney Ferry www.bluemesablog.com

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Scotland

Skara Brae

Skara Brae, Orkney, Scotland www.bluemesablog.com

Our first day in Orkney, we made our way to Skara Brae, which we had travelled so far to see. We walked down the long path that leads to it, past markers of various events in time relative to the place—the first man on the moon, the Declaration of Independence, the fall of Rome, the great wall of China, the pyramids, and so on further back still—and spent a long time on the green and daisy-speckled mounds, staying through people and solitude, through sun and wind and frozen sleet, gazing down into the stone houses and out into the crashing waves that threaten to ruin the place after 5,000 years.

Skara Brae, Orkney, Scotland www.bluemesablog.com Skara Brae, Orkney, Scotland www.bluemesablog.com Skara Brae, Orkney, Scotland www.bluemesablog.com

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Scotland

The Fairy Pools

The Fairy Pools, Skye www.bluemesablog.com

That day we woke to a particularly sunny morning, with light that looked bright blue over the water and made the surrounding hills particularly green. After breakfast it was overcast and not raining, and we made our way down to the Fairy Pools. They looked unremarkable from the road, but revealed themselves as we approached. The mountains behind were striking, like a silver negative in film, dark shining grey with ridges in pale silver, positively surreal. There is copper in the mountains that flows down into this long series of waterfalls and pools, turning them deep turquoise green and blue. Some are quite still, others rippling, and then there are little falls, and larger ones, and one high, dramatic one you come upon suddenly. As we moved up over the rocks and hills, the sound of the water changed, at times very quiet and gently flowing like a little brook, at others falling in a hushing sort of sound, and then crashing loudly in the great falls. I climbed over the rocks to the very edge of the waterfall and sat looking back at the hills and down into those clear, vivid pools.

The Fairy Pools, Skye www.bluemesablog.com

The Fairy Pools, Skye www.bluemesablog.com

The Fairy Pools, Skye www.bluemesablog.com

The Fairy Pools, Skye www.bluemesablog.com

The Fairy Pools, Skye www.bluemesablog.com

The Fairy Pools, Skye www.bluemesablog.com

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Scotland

The Windswept Ruin

The Windswept Ruin, Trumpen Church, Isle of Skye, Scotland www.bluemesablog.com

The ruins of Trumpen Church rest near the tip of a northern peninsula on the Isle of Skye. It’s a windy promontory on the edge of a high cliff overlooking the ocean, the site of an old clan feud, now isolated and seemingly forgotten. I found it in the late afternoon, when the winds were strong and the sun was just beginning to set over the water.

The Windswept Ruin, Trumpen Church, Isle of Skye, Scotland www.bluemesablog.com

The Windswept Ruin, Trumpen Church, Isle of Skye, Scotland www.bluemesablog.com

The Windswept Ruin, Trumpen Church, Isle of Skye, Scotland www.bluemesablog.com

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